Sunday, April 8, 2012
Woke up feeling refreshed this morning. After a hot shower I was raring to go. We still have a seven hour drive ahead of us to Bordeaux, but if the tour book is telling the truth then the venue tonight has a band flat for us to sleep in. It's Friday night and it feels like there could be a party tonight.
The hotel we stayed at last night was an absolute bargain..
The toll roads in this country are insanely expensive. Sure the roads are of a superb quality, not like in the States where you pay both tolls for the roads and car mechanics for the damage inflicted by pot holes. We had little choice but to take the toll roads today though and it cost us dear. One time on tour with Speedhorn we made the costly mistake of driving around Switzerland from Turin to Saarbrucken, thinking we'd avoid the border problems the Swiss always impose. We ended up paying over two hundred Euros in tolls and were pretty much wiped out by the time we got into to Germany.
I spent most of the journey today falling asleep in the passenger seat. With each pause along the road, the further south we got the warmer it felt. By the time we got to within an hour of Bordeaux the sun was shining and we were stood about in t-shirts. Only two days ago we were in the bitter winds of Manchester. Jen told me it's snowing at home...
I've never been to Bordeaux before. It's a quite beautiful place. Whereas most cities have some small, ancient quarters that are full of tourists, usually known as the “old town”, in Bordeaux the entire down town, city centre area is the “old town”. It's a huge labyrinth of narrow streets and old buildings, ancient castle walls and gates littered with plaza's brimming with coffee shops and bars, coupled with designer boutiques and tourist shops. It was quite the battle for Claes to manoeuvre the van around the tiny streets that we again packed with parked cars, but we finally made it to the small anarcho punk club known as The Heretic Club. We had to move a metal, building site style fence to park the van but nobody seemed to mind. What the fuck Peter was going to do with his van and trailer was beyond me but we'd deal with that later. We were about an hour early and after two days in the van and the sun now shining, we took off for a quick exploration of the city.
It truly is a stunning place. It felt so nice to be able to walk around in a t-shirt. Started immediately fantasising about summer in Stockholm and cups of tea on the balcony.. After walking around for a half hour or so, taking photos of old buildings and archways and the like, we made our way to a bar that had some tables out front. Drette, Robban and Jon had gone back to the van, but the rest of us were in no hurry. We each had a large glass of Belgian beer and snacked on the olives and peanuts that accompanied them. For the first time since I left work eight day ago, it felt like I was on holiday.
By the time we got back to the club the Black Breath guys had arrived and loaded in most of the backline, which I felt bad about. They were cool though. I guess they appreciate the fact that we're providing the gear for the tour... The club itself looked pretty much like I thought it would. Stone walls, sticky floors and dirty benches. The stage was in a small room down in the basement. All the signs so far are very positive. The people who worked here seemed friendly too. Looking forward to playing the show tonight.
After load in was done, I sat around changing the strings on all three of my guitars. I put a heavier gage on them, hoping that might help the constant string snapping. My other Tele, which I haven't been able to use so far since there has been some weird buzz on the neck, was back in action. It seems the heavier gage of string sits better on the guitar. Nice to have three guitars, quite the luxury. Although I soon realised that I didn't have a third guitar strap, since I snapped it at Ieper Fest last year and haven't used the guitar since. I'll have to sort that in the morning. We're not leaving until midday tomorrow and there are already plans in motion for a morning coffee in the city before we head off to San Sebastian.
The band flat was above the venue and was in actual fact a large, dirty, dimly lit dormitory with six bunks and a few extra scabby double mattresses that we spread about the floor. Drette has been feeling sick for the last couple of days, something I'd somehow missed, and has been saying that he'll be going to bed straight after the show tonight. I'm not sure...
The guys at the club provided us with some terrific grub, something along the lines of a pea and lentil stew with rice and fried tofu. It was beautiful. Nice to have some real food again. One of the biggest problems with long days on the road is the enforced diet of service station sandwiches and crisps.
The fridge in the backstage room was full of beer and they'd told us just to let them know when it ran out so and they'd refill it. They'd even provided a bottle of Scotch. The only downside to this hospitality is that with there only being a limited guarantee of three hundred Euros total for the bands, with a percentage after break even and a five Euro ticket price, we're more than likely drinking away our fee for tonight. Not that that stopped us from emptying the fridge of beer over and over again...
Tormented were due to go on at nine thirty, but with doors at nine and curfew at two, it seemed a little early, especially with so few people currently in the building. There were a few punks hanging outside in the street, drinking cans of beer in carrier bags but I had the feeling, or at least hoped that the people would turn up later. We are in the south after all.
By the time Tormented took to the stage at ten-fifteen, the place was starting to fill out. I stood to the side of the small stage and watched their entire set. I thought they sounded great and I thought Drette was doing a great job of fighting through the fever he'd been feeling. I drank a couple of beers during their set and started to feel the effects almost immediately. I was far from drunk but as we say in Sweden, “Jag var jävligt peppad!”.
Claes is really back in full swing now and tonight Tormented ripped up the stage. In fact, quite literally Claes ripped up the low ceiling. Every time he wafted his Flying V above his head he punched a hole in the foam ceiling tiles a few centimetres above his head. During the last song his guitar head actually got caught in the ceiling, and then a short while after dislodging it got a long strand of his hair stuck, so that it was stood upright. He didn't even notice but he might have been the only one and I pissed myself laughing at the comical scene.
By the time we were line checked and ready the small room was pretty packed, and very sweaty. There was probably about one hundred people in here and the atmosphere was frying. Again, all I really heard on stage was myself and a little of the drum kit but tonight I didn't really care such was the buzz in the room. We blasted through the set and I felt like I was still running on full by the time we got the end thirty minutes later. I didn't even break a string, although at one point mine and Johan's guitars clashed, head stock to head stock and for a split second I thought it was game over, but it must have only been a glancing shot. The only real downer tonight was when we played The Answer, a song I've only ever rehearsed about six or seven times. There was something that wasn't quite sitting right with it, I was off somewhere. I'll give it another go tomorrow though.. Typically enough it was Jon's turn to snap a string tonight and it took a couple of minutes for him to sort out Judas (his spare guitar, don't know why he calls it that..), so during the lull the three of us went in to some doom, noise jam. I was actually disappointed when Jon was ready again since it was good fun. Back on track we ripped through Circles and Scars and then we were done.
There hadn't been that much movement in the crowd but there was a lot of noise between songs. We left the stage with both the crowd and Jamie, who was stood side stage, shouting for more. It never feels right playing extra songs when you're not the headlining band though so we left it. We stood around in the cool hallway behind the stage waiting for the crowd to stop cheering and the sound engineer to put some record on. It took a few minutes but eventually the lights came on and the crowd quietened down. At this Andy headed for the door to the stage but was immediately pushed back by a loud shout from a gang of punks and ran back in. It was like a scene from Monty Python or something..
Eventually the punks moved upstairs to the bar and we packed down our gear. Drette was still up surprisingly enough, and not only was he awake he was sharing the bottle of Scotch with Neil, that familiar grin on his face. I grabbed a couple of beers and headed upstairs to the merch stall whilst Black Breath set up. I met Luc, the drummer in Gasmask Terror. I had no idea they were from Bordeaux. Seemed like a really nice guy.
The Black Breath set was a lot of fun. Jamie seemed to be struggling, as had Andy apparently, hard for the drummer if he has no monitor and is sat behind all the amps, but you would never had known to see him play. He hit the fuck out of the kit, he really is an awesome drummer. I stood on the floor beside the stage with Jocke for the whole set and loved every second of it. The thought occurred to me just how much fun it is playing in a band and having the fortune to be able to tour.
There were a couple of fun shouts from the crowd during the BB set. When Neil thanked the crowd after one of the songs, an anonymous voice somewhere in the room, in stereotypical French broken English replied, “You are welcome.” Another occasion between songs you could hear Jamie complaining that he couldn't hear shit, to which a punk at the front parped up, “No need to make phrroblums ahh...” For some reason it tickled me..
By the end of their set people were starting to spill on to the stage as the mosh pit got wilder with the odd lingerer here and there being dealt with by the boots of Neil and Eric. I told Jamie after their set it was the most fun I'd had watching them yet but he wasn't buying it. Funny how perceptions can differ so wildly from person to person.
The spirits were high after the show with everyone, except Mark, washing down beer after beer at the bar. Drette, still awake, had bought a bottle of champagne from the bar and sharing it with al around him. At one point rumour spread that Robban was some hot shot arm wrestler, that he'd been ranked third in Sweden with his left arm. He took on pretty much everyone in the touring party, at one point taking on Johan and I at the same time and humiliating the shit out of us! Strong bastard has some technique to his game.
As the night was winding down and the clock was marching steadily forward, Johan got into an argument with the promoter. For a start we'd only been paid the three hundred Euro's, meaning Victims took just ninety, something that felt pretty fucking pissy considering the crowd that had been in, but that by the by, just the way it is sometimes when you play these punk clubs, Johan took exception to the promoter's attitude when he told him that the agreed upon load out time of eleven am. had now been put back. The argument started getting a little heated when the promoter said that the guy who was supposed to let us in in the morning was drunk and would never make eleven am, but he'd try to get here for twelve. He was being a dick about it, at least in the manner he was giving us the news. Johan started to get pissed off back and the whole thing was in danger of cooking over when the guy spat, “You can load out now otherwise, do what the fuck you want.” Fucking bullshit! It pissed me off when he reasoned that the drive to San Sebastian tomorrow was only a short one and we had no reason to stress. What are plans are for tomorrow have fuck all to do with him! Maybe we've been in the van for two days solid and want to take advantage of the short trip tomorrow and take a look around San Sebastian. It all fizzled out in the end but not to a result we'd wanted. He'd try to be here for twelve..
Not sure what time it was when I got to my bunk. Don't really remember going to my bunk if the truth is told..